Friday, October 26, 2007

Of Bikes,Boys, and Booze

" Hey,meet me at Bandra by 6 pm."
"what!!! You xpect me 2 get from g'kopar to bandra in half an hour?"
"No,not you alone.Get in touch wid M.He's ringing his bike.I m joining hesh on his bike."

This was VJ.One of my oldest mates,M,Hesh,Vj,Nish.We go back a long tym.and there was a new addition halfway,R/So this was an all out boys trip planned for us.Why Bandra?? Well,these are guys from small towns and suburbs,naturally,bandra has that sort of effect on ppl.

"Where are you guys? We are already at the parking lot.Get down there fast.Nish and R won't make it" - Vj

We get there and the air of the place rings out with curse words.The solitude goes for a toss,so does the privacy of a lot of other ppl.we backslap each other,swear at ourselves,and laugh for silly nothings.The bikers give their accelerators a workout.Finally,we grin stupidly at each other and sit down.

"Well,its been 6 months since we last had a meet." - vj
"Yeah,and that was when you treated us to that f*@#$^g movie." - Hesh
" Hey,anyone's thirsty.I got beer." - M
" You never told me you had that in your box" - me
"Oh sorry,guys.It won't be chilled.He's been sitting over it for a while." - M
" Ass#@&e" - me.

" So,what do we have here? An accountant(ICWA- vj corrects),a businessman,and a chef.Of course,me being a good for nothing cross between a philosopher and a writer"

"Oh just thought we oughtta get together.Its been a long time.and......." - Hesh
" And what..? " - M
"Nothing, Vj had an announcement" - Hesh
"And you have nothing else to say??" - M
"No,after him." - Hesh

" well....." - me
" Nothing guys.there's good news and there's bad news." -Vj
"whats the bad news?" - Hesh
"Yeah,we'll go with the bad news first.Easier to gulp with the beer." - M( he has a bad sense of humor)
" well,my boss fired me." - Vj
" Son of a bi......" - M
" May he die with his @#$^* crucified.may he be allowed entrance to hell when i am in power" - hesh
" Amen"- M
" Why??How??" - me
" What does it matter?It's done and over.Ididn't plan to work there for long anyways." - Vj
"So what's the good news??" - me
" Yeah,and it better be good.Or you'll be ........." - M
" Well,you guys remember that girl i was going out with in ICWA" - Vj
" Yah, silly kind of a......... Yeah,sorry. please do continue". - Hesh ( stops after M nudges him)
"we have been going strong for the last to years......And i think this is going to contine." - Vj
" Cool" - me
" Yeah.boy.You go get her" - hesh
" Yeah.Fine.But what is the good news?" - M

And we all resort to slapping him again.We then gang on Vj,and start a celebratory singing of 'We will rock you'.By now the beer is rumbling my stomach.I never kind of liked it anyways.

"how can you be 21,be a rebel and not smoke or drink?" - Hesh
" You don't need to drink or smoke to be a rebel.And if that is the picture you have of a rebel,i am not conforming to it." - me
" What? " - M
" Forget it" - Hesh
" So wassup with the rest of you guys?" - vj
Oh well,My parents have handed over the family business to me" - hesh
" I am so sorry for them" - me
" Yeah,I guess they'll be bankrupt by a few years." - M
" Yeah,right ass... at least I don't have to spend the day burning my ass oer the oven with a *@#^head shouting in my ears" - hesh
" All right,cut it out you two.I think i am gonna puke" - me
"Hey,I paid for that beer,yu can't spit it on the street." - M
" Right,H.......Allright,M say AAAhh" - Vj

and we all break out layghing.The shit stays in my stomach for a while.And a second rund of the drinks are called for.As we sit on the seaface of the promenade,crowded by anonymous couples,we are a strange bunch.I sit in the middle.Hesh to my right,and M to my left.Vj sits to the right of hesh.

" I think I love...." - VJ
" What!!!!!!" - me
" what?" - hesh
M looks confusedly at us.He had been chatting with hesh before i shrieked.
" Vj said something" - me
" No,nothing" - VJ
" what did he say?" - M asks hesh
" Nothing" - hesh
" No, you ass#@*! ! before that" - M
"VJ... better be out with it." - me
" I think i love her." - Vj

The air went all still.The only sounds emanating were that of the sea.A slow lumbering drone.
Then the beer flowed out of our nostrils,and we fell onto the pavement laughing.Vj wasn't amused.

" i am serious" - Vj
" yeah,and I am Caesar" - M ( told ya he has a bad sense of humor)
" Vj,you are 21.At this age a lot of us feel a lot of things.You'll probably love somebody else by next year." - hesh

we packed him still protesting,into the bike and speed off for dinner.The night has gone deep.People are asleep.But we roar around on our bikes.And i puke onto the street without getting off.!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Conversations In An Exam HAll

" hey there buddy!! you done for the exams??Now,don't you pull up that long face before me.....I knoe all you smart ass*&^#$!!! You guys prepare and then just try not to tell anyone.what was that ?? Oh of course, i prepared.What do you think i was doing yesterday? Except i have just prepared to score uptil the point,when the teacher can declare that i've passed the exams.

Hey A,wassup dude? Yeah,i got some serious problems with the political system..... oh,sorry,did you mean the subject?? Of course,you meant the subject.You got any extra notes.Oh man,sorry.I almost forgot.You too didn't attend any lectures,did ya?Yeah,the prof still has the hots for me.Last heard he was asking R about my whereabouts.No,yaar.I don't think he will come to supervise the exam.At most,he might come to give any corrections that we need.Not that it would help a lot.Yah,We need answers more than we need correct questions.HAHAHHA"

"No,you bloody .... go away,let me study in peace.No i don't know about the Federal system.Of course,I don't have any notes for that,which is the basic reason behind my not studying it.What do you mean?? NO WAY!!! They are not giving a 15 mark question for that chapter.Gimme that note.Wat do you mean you have to study?? what were you doing till now? Showing off. All right,seat your royal arse down.Let us work as a coalition,just till the exams."


......what??? The bell already rang?? Sure.... crap,these things go off just wen you don't want them to.You done the studying.Good,help me out if i ask you.Who's with you? oh,she's a 'good girl'.She will tell you any answers you want,just ask the right questions.Yes sir,we are ready for the exams.what sir? You want us to keep the bags outside the hall,how then are we supposed to write the exams? Jus' kidding sir,right away.Yeah,you too.Hey jackass,Best lucks, you need it more than anybody else in this room.At least we have sharing space on the benches,You seem to have hit an empty spot."

"what the f *** is this? Yes,thank you.I know it is a question paper.You know the first one.....Good,keep your paper to the right..easier to copy that way.Hey!! get your elbow outta the way."

" Hey!! stop kicking me from behind....I don't share your arsical properties that keep you immune from such feelings.What do you want?? The answer to the third question is about a page long.....I can't narrate it.I've been taking stuff from N in front of me.Wait till the last hour,wen i have finished scoring at least 35 marksI'll show you whatever you want to see....Hhaha.Glad to see that the fear of ATKT( for the uninitiated Allowed To Keep Terms)hasn't numbed that shit you call sense of humor."

"Yes Sir?? No sir,I am not copying.OF course.sir.I never knew copying.Do you think i can fail twice in the same exam if i can copy?? Yes sir....Ohhh that....I was asking her the time sir.The cap,....Sir?? It is for my good luck.Yes sirr, No amount f good luck can replace hard work.but sir,you oughtta try it once.No sir,never.I'd never keep ay chits under my cap.Any ways,Its the worst place to keep it.I'd rather keep it on the ...... Can i sit down to write, Sir? Yes sir.No more talking.I won't even breathe if you don't want me to.Thank you,sir."

" Hey N, what's with the attitude?C'mon girl...Jus the last answer.I promise i won't bother you again....Yes,that's the spirit.Ahhh...don't even fear him,He just threatens you with all sorts of things,never actually does one."

"What's the matter with you?I told you i still have an answer to write.What do you ean? I've kep my paper so far to the right that, that scumbag in the next row might write the paper.No,He's of no use.He's way below,even you...hard to beleive, yah!!Hey,write if you can,or else let me write the paper.At least one of us would pass this time."

" crap!! There goes that darn bell again..what is the next point....Son of a bi.......I had it here before that bell wentt off....sir,hold on,sir...just one more line...A few last words maybe....Sir,that could help me score a mark.......crap,wait till i get the better of you someday......Don't you even ask me,How was the paper?? You didn't even show me a proper,decent answer to begin with.Ok,was that 15 mark answer guaranteed? Yah,gratified..Thanx,that wud help."


Epilogue: The situations in this blog are not fictionalised or fake,They are as close to reality as possible.Yes,even those characters mentioned do exist.unfortunately.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SIN!!!!

I saw something today,that i might not forget for the rest of my life.Even the mere recollection of it brings my dinner up from the stomach.It was a bleak picture,except that it was life unfolding itself before me.I have sen this before,but it never struck me as being so poignant .

It was a 7-9 year old boy.In the middle of a hot afternoon,scourging through the garbage bin.he only company he had was that of a dog,who was there for his own selfish motive.He dipped in his hand and found a stale packet of bread.That was the find of the day for him.He sat under the shadow of the bin,and began sharing that stinking morsel with his friend.At that point,I just could not take it.Then I did what first came to my mind.I left my company,went up to him and gave him a 5 rupee coin.He was first apprehensive at this intrusion of his lunch,then surprised at my foolishness.But then,he smiled.No other smile that i remember had wrenched my heart so much as this one.He held the coin in his hand,picked up the packet and walked away.

My friend came up to me and said," Well,now he won't go hungry for 2 more days."His observation chilled my heart.If it was sarcasm,it was cold.If he said the truth,even more so.Now,I sit here on a public platform and tell my story to young,rebellious and intellectual minds.I could quote Sartre,speak like Che,but does it matter? If i do,I might get a few more hits on my blog.But then,would i not be the ame as the many ppl of this city,who see such sights everyday,tut-tut for a moment and catch the next train home?

we have all seen movies.SALAAM BOMBAY,CHANDNI BAR,TRAFFIC SIGNAL.What happens after these movies?We all applaud the grit,courage of the filmmaker.The director wins a national award,the actor a filmfare.But what of those characters?What about the beggars,the prostitutes,the 'system'?They keep on.With every turn of the reel they return to their pain,hunger and humiliation.Eternally trapped within 24 reels.

I am doing my BA today.I might do an Ma.Years later,I might go to Oxford.But what of the boy on the street?What future does he have?Is it going to be better? If so,how?What kind of company does he live in,what sort of a life would he lead?Does he have a family?Or a mother ? Where is his mother...does anyone know where his motheris? Is she happy that her son can feed himself? Or is she scavenging somewhere else?Or worse...?

Mumbai is a city of dreams.what sort of dreams are we talking about here?Does this boy even dream?He probably walks around those desolate streets at night,hungry and under the influence f drugs.Used more to obliviate hunger,than as a tool of pleasure.What country gives its citizens food not fit for dogs?So what if it is 'imported'.Well,we have so long been used to seeing slavery,oppression that some of us have got used to it.The poor are happy,as long as they get to eat,so what if it is dog food,It is imported.

I feel nauseating.I find my life and the existence of it in such a society disgusting.Who am I to judge others.I am a hypocrite myself.When you have such thoughts,questions,and see such sights.what do you do?What could you do,other than ignore them and continue to live in a blissfully fictional world,where 'pain is but an occasional episode'.

Wake up,for somebody else lives a life in pain.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Naaka

He sits there in a corner ,on his haunches inches above the road.the crowd mills on.Its just morning.He is accompanied by scores of faces on the 'naka'.He puffs slowly on his 'bidi' without a care and yet the creases on his forehead are symbolic of a premature aging.There are more faces than my brain can register.I have no idea where they come from,who they are or what they do,but i see them there.everyday,every morning.

The morning sun starts burning from 9:30.The bank has just opened.Traffic is at its peak,yet these people stand there,unnoticed uncared.As if their existence itself is visible to a select few,the ones who seek and the ones who have found.The 'paan tapri' at the nukkad is doing brisk business.After all,these are his first customers of the day.The paans are not much asked for,they are above reach,instead the bidis and the sachets of gutkha flow out.

The boy brings in the tea-chandelier.I have often amazed at two things,one is the knowledge of travelers about an oncoming train without even looking at the indicator and the other is the dexterity of the eternal 'chotu' balancing ,more tea cuttings than his fingers.He hands over a cup to my 'unknown friend'.I watch as the boiling watery tea slowly decreases in volume.He waits patiently,after all patience is a virtue more associated with the poor than the rich.More out of default than choice.I know why he is waiting.

The truck arrives and the manager gets out of it.Soon the motley crowd is drawn to it.The voice of the 'manager' is heard shrilly above the rest.Clear,sharp and precise to the core.

It is a job at a construction site/50 rs for the day/No lunch provided/Those who are strong are the only ones who will be taken.

It is as simple as it can get.No complex interviews,no haggling over the wage,no cal-you-back-later.Just plain You-interested-Get in.He walks up to the manager,effortlessly grappling through the anxious crowd.He says something and gets picked immediately.An impression of his thumb on paper and he's off.The rest, a pack of young old men and old young men,wait for the next truck.

As the truck dissapears around the bend,I wonder why i am standing here.What was it that interested me,was it mere ennui or was it something more? I don't know.These are people that are fighting to exist.Each hou spent in idyll is more hours of hunger for a kid or a day more of labour for a wife.these people are not here out of choice,they are desperate to get job.What right do i have to use them for my creative pleasure?They feel to me like a lonely island of people who stand by each other in adversity,because they know if he doesn't work his kids will be just as hungry as mine.They wait patiently,puffing on their bidis mulling n their gutkhas,not cursing anyone a job acquired but waiting for a job,any job that comes for them.They are alone in this world of hungry,greedy and selfish sharks,like me,who'd use them to write a good article and not pay them a penny.Yes,they are alone.

As Rilke said

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pending Issue.

The tom-boy beside me,doffs my head with the heavy sociology book.

"wakey wakey, Old boy!! its afternoon." R

Of course it is afternoon.The clock behind her shows 2 pm.The 'misal paav' and 'cutlet' are burning my stomach.My tongue is parched and there is a sour acidic liquid going up and down inside of my throat. look up from my head rest to find all of them winking at me.I am in the library since 10 am,and have fallen asleep for the third time straight.

" oh boy! look at him.He is exhausted from all this studying." P snobs.

" You are not of much use in a group study.you know that !! ", V declares solemnly..

" Well, I try my best." Not my fault if they chose a boring subject to study.

"All right then.Bye.we are off.I think you could look into those xeroxes now that you are 'refreshed' " R chides.

" what!!! You can't leave me here.Alone!!!" I've never been alone in the library after 12pm.

A week to the exams,and they do this to you.friends!!! I look around at the table.There are 7-8 sheafs of xeroxs spread across,3 notebooks lying open.Neat.No wonder,they have great arms.Carrying all these must help.well,might as well look into it. What the F@#% !! damn that mobile.Where is it?? Crap!! These idiots,@#$%&*** (can't use the original thoughts,censors)!! Can't they keep things better placed and arranged.Ha,now here it is.(The whole library is staring up from their dreamholes at me.The library assistant has an evil look in his eyes.) I hate it when people look at me like that.Better try to pretend as if i am studying.

No use! I am bored before can get to the tenth page.Let me assure you that Sociology is not a rivetting read.I turn my eyes to the entrance.You would be amused at how much you can tell about a person by the way he walks into a library.Look,That one is a 'first timer'.see how he walks suspiciously,looking all around the place.And that....well,that is a 'showoff'.Well dressed,mp3 headset still inhis ears,one small book in hand and of course,the perennial arm candy by his side.Here he comes.The genuine reader.Casually dressed,walking with the confidence of a gladiator,straight where he knows he will get what he wants.And that is a cute girl at the counter.Hey!!! hold a minute.I know her .She's tha....... Holy crap!! She spotted me.Dive H,dive!!Pretend to read.

" Hi!!! what are you doing here??" she

" aerrmm... studying." Yeah. Right!!

" Good!I just came in to do the same."

" Great.You could give me company.Probably help me out." Right son.chance pe dance kar,beta,chance pe dance.

" Ok"

Five minutes pass.I look up at her,she's studying.Ten minutes pass,I look up at her.She's still studying.I wonder what my friends would say if i told them tat i was sitting there like a loser,in front of the smartest girl in class( not a bad looker either), and kept studying sociology.Naaahhh!! I know i sound like one of those idiots in your circle,but hey,at least this is better than understanding a theory proposed fifty years ago in an unregistrable language.Ok,so here goes.

" How far have you finished your subjects?" Great question H.Mindblowing!! Your grandson would do a better job. i.e if he ever comes to life.

" Oh!! I think i've got to just revise socio,and poitical.English is lagging behind."

"Ooookaaaayy." wow.Now i know how many subjects i have,That clears it all up.

" Could you help me out with english?? Ma'm said you are a good student."

" Yeah????? well.yeah.....sure.Did ma'm really say that?" she might have.During one of her insanity spells.

"Great!! we could meet here then next week till the exams."

" Of course." Wait.... Well,what the heck!!! " Ok .You hungry??" god,let her be.

" welllll,ya.I think"

" I am done here for today.Wanna join me for lunch(what time is it?3...no 4) My treat." Pleeeease.

" sure"

Well,and i live happily ever after.You see the library is not such a bad place to be after all.The dact remains that i have yet to start reading up on a subject,my english professor still keeps looking for me in the corridors.But at least,I have broken through.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The End - A fictional thought.

I can't see straight.The
tears in my eyes are blurring everything in view.The more i try not to cry,the faster they come out of my eyes.My insides are boiling.The pain is unbearable.it is as though a lava of hate is boiling over and threatening to spill out.I can't breathe.My head feels like a inflated balloon that is about to explode.It aches like hell.My bdy is trembling.all ican hear or think is curses.I want to gouge my eyes out,but my hands can't find them.I grab at the curtains and pull them down.The sunlight pours in on me like a pack of wolves on a lamb.

I feel everything in the room staring at me.as though scoffing and laughing at this unusually weird behaviour of their owner.I can hear their harsh laughs.They crash against the walls of the room and echo ten folds.Hate builds within me a euphoria of rage.I slam the nearest window and it crashes into pieces.I heave and drag the TV out of its corner and tip it over the edge.It slams face first,with sparks flying through its back.The beast inside me has by now woken up.I grab my bat and vent its prowess on the stereo.It cracks open within two blows,but keeps on humming.I bring the bat down on it agin,and again and again.Until both the bat and the stereo are done for.

I am breathless but intoicated ny the rage.I put my back to the wall,feet to the back of the cupboard and push it down.The room shakes under the crash.The walls begin to tremble in fear....of me.The cupboard lies on the floor,stricken by my anger.ike a giant redwood felled by lightning.I now take the curtain rod to be my weapon.It serves the purpose.By the next blow,my computer monitor is faceless.I pick the cpu and throw it out of the window,That is how you send 20,000 rupees flying.I throw the keyboard towards the door where it stops after hitting the door with an awkward thwack.

My hands are bleeding.But i can't feel the pain.Almost senseless,I am out of my mind,out of control.The room is destroyed,my anger isn't.I turn the curtain rod on myself.I feel dizzy,but unhurt.I hold the mirror and crash my face into it.The mirror now looks as bloody as my face.Teh burning inside me has increased.I kick the sink til i stop feeling my leg.

I am in a mess.The room round me bears witness to the existence of a beast.But nothing is completely prefect,not even destruction.Not until its cause becomes its end.I pick up the kitchen knife,it shines as i hold it up against the light.A wicked shine it is.One of a deceptive nature,that can feed you as well as kill you.I hold the hilt to my neck,blade downwards.My hands tremble as i ponder over the final moments.One wish icould have had,one thing i wanted to do,or one moment that i want to live forever.Too late.

I am sitting in the hall,my body streaming in sweat.The pain has begun to creep upon me slowly,i am hurting all over.Anger and Hate - two of my worst enemies and worser of friends - took me on and beat me.The blood gusjing out of my stomach is proof of that.The world has niw slowly begun to fade.The last sight of my sinful life is that of a destroyed room crying in pain.

I wake up with as much pain as i was in,but now i am alive.Newly born.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Something Fishy

I got into the compartment on the run.If i had looked before,I would never have got in.A stale blast of stink hit me face first as i tried to get in.My face shrunk and nose crinkled.It was the luggage compartent and was full of fish.I realised that the train was already at its top speed and i could not get down now.So i hung around at the door.And tried to watch what exactly were the people that travelled in this compartment.

The place was full of fish and fishermen.It was 5 am in the morning and most probably they were going to deposit their catches in the market.Each one of them stank as much as the fish.My first thoughts were to get off the compartment and try to breathe,but then something stopped me.I decided to do something different.I stayed on.The air adjusted to me,and my lungs began to breathe stale air.

After i crossed Thane,a guy from inside asked me where i had to get down at.I told him that i was going to Vidvihar.He laughed and asked me to goto the passenger compartment.I said,that i can travel in this compartment too.He laughed again and said that i could,but the time i would get to college i would stink like a fish.I didn't mind.He offered me a place to sit in the corner benches,the only ones there.I sat down and glanced around.These guys were strong all right,i thought,as i watched them lift and heave those heavy,dripping baskets of fish and pass it on to people standing outside.Their black taut skin,shone as the dim sun passed his fleeting reflections on to them.Their ropy biceps and muscles working again and again,moving the baskets,shifting them to make place for more and adjusting to accomodate everyone.The man sitting next to me ,prodded me and asked why i was here.I told him i was just curious.He laughed and said why would i sit here ,when i can be happy in the air of the passengers compartment.I said,I am happy now.He asked me what i studied.I replied his question.His neighbour by now joined in and said wouldn't it mean that after another year i might be well settled in life? I looked at his curious face,dripping in oily sweat.Maybe i would be settled and then,maybe i wouldn't.How come??,he asked.

The next fifteen minutes were spent tying to explain to a group of fishermen how education and graduation does not guarantee you comfortable lifestyle in todays world.I smiled to myself.How is this happening? One moment i am not even sure of what i am supposed to do.My dad is dissappointed with me,my mom thinks i have destroyed my future and ruined all my opportunities.everything i do seems to be going wrong,my friends have lost touch with me.My neighbours deride me,college seems to be monotonous.My life is all but alive.Then suddenly i am sitting here amongst a group of fisherfolk,trying to explain to them why this world is so complicated,why my life is so destroyed.exlplaining to them why education does not guarantee wisdom.and what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge.

As i get off at the station,i am not wiser than i was before.I still don't know where i am going wrong,but i do realise that ia m wrong somewhere.I don't know how this ralisation came to me.Maybe it was the smell of that fish.Or probably the sweat of those fishermen,that made me confess to them the mistakes that i never admitted to my parents.Myabe because they were honest,and unprejudiced.Or maybe because they really wanted to know whta a by like me was doing in their compartment.I don't know,but my heart felt a lot lighter.Those hardworking,honest men had taught me something i knew but had forgotten.No matter what the day,what the season,what the time,they catch fish and sell it.that is all they know and need to know.

Maybe i should do the same too.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Father's Son

He hobbles through the college dor at the turn of the seventh hour of the morning.He is there everyday,rain or no rain.The college has just opened.Students are flowing in trickles.Few people are bothered to have a look at him,some others consciously avoid him.His father holds him by the hand as he climbs the stairs.I never knew a boy so religiously wanting to study.He is not normal,I say.Yes,He is not normal.He is autistic.

I can only imagine the struggles he goes through everyday.To be unable to perceive things the way 'normal' people do;to face a struggle to even smile.To watch people tease you as a madman,understand it and yet being unable to reply them in the offensive.Going through that every single day,to suffer ignominy and yet face it silently.It takes courage,a whole mountain of it.I watch as his father coaxes him to climb the stairs on his own.I just can't help feeling sorry for him.But i know what stuff he is made of.To watch him wait for his son in classes,take his notes,help him study is heart rending even if you do not have a heart.

The bo hobb;es,literally,his legs twisted at vague angles.His face is masked in a smile,as though hiding his pain forever.But the pain is evident in his eyes.I tried not to stare at him,but just couldn't help it.His father noticed me and smiled.I muttered my apologies.His father waved his hand,"Oh!! That is fine.We are used to it by now." whether he meant it in a jocular way,i don't know.But that defined the amount of scrutiny that they have went through.I mustered enough courage to ask the father about the boy,I was not sure i would be able to communicate with the boy that well.His father smiled and said,"Ask him yourself". Looking at the awkwardness on my face,he decided to help me out.I watched as the boy,went through several struggling motions to spell out a few sentences in his defense.I smiled back at him.

The father was a far better speaker,and he answered a lot of my queries.Since the bell was still a quarter hour to go.I asked him if he ever rethought about the decision to put his kid through college.He smiled and said" Did you father ever tell you that you should better drop out and work??".I said "No". Then "How would I do that ?". Yes,how would he have done thata.But it would have taken a tremendous amount of faith in his father's ability and an amazing amount of patience to do it.Imagine the amount of unwanted advice,the number of neighbours laughing at your decision.Your relatives telling you it is a lost cause,your son is not 'normal'.Imagine the pain in the father's heart,the pain of his dreams shattering,the burnt feeling that is caused by watching his son sit at home while his friends go on to become doctors,lawyers etc.And knowing that your son could also have been that,if only they'd give him a little time and patience.

'Not Normal',aid the father is a universal term.It is used to describe a madman,an autist and a deaf or dumb person.As though they are abnormal.But aren't we all different?Aren't we all unique? Does the inability to express term a person normal or abnormal?Do we not all have different perceptions of the same thing? And are we not sometimes slow in grasping it?How,then,would you define normalcy?Having two hands,twolegs and every organ intact in your body and yet living on your father's income;is that normal? Or having a sever learning disability,and yet struggling to come to college everyday to learn, to compete; is that normal?I don't know.Nor does that father.But one thing he knows,and I know he knows,He will make his child study.He will let him know the world's stupidity.He will make an effort to prove his snobby relatives wrong,that his child is normal.He can learn,speak,write and read.Though a bit slowly,but he can.AND HE WILL.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Visit To The House of God

The sun beams from behind the huge structure of the temple gate.Shadows play in and out of the intricate ornations adorning it.Gods and goddesses look down,stirred from their divine slumber,upon mortals walking in and out of the temple .everyone is all pious and perfectly righteous as they wander in, in search of redemption.They are all promised just that,regardless of gender,caste or faith.But not everyone goes in,some like me linger on outside.Confused on whether they ought to go in or stay on,about where their loyalties lie.As usual,my eyes wander to search for the worst part of such a holy place.There are beggars sitting outside the gates,waiting for some good soul to come out and offer somthing to them.I order a cup of tea from the tea vendor,who seems scarcely bothered that he is sitting right outside the house of the most powerful non-human on earth.I watch as the days proceedings begin.

There are scores of beggars that are lying outside that place.They are in all sizs and types.Lepers,blind,handicapped and lame.Some really pitiable and others faking it.Little do they care or know that behind those gates lies an omniscient being that knows everything.They raise voices,hark out to anyone who would hear.They call out to them in his name,invoking his blessings on those who are generous enough.Of course,there is no doubting the generosity of humans in such places.They are so generous some would drop everything in their pockets,but at what exchange.I am a cynic,yes,but it seems to be thoroughly illogical to me that you come out of the presence of the omnipresent,omnipotent and all pervading spirit;having paid your obeisance to him and asked his favor and yet go on to ask the poor soul outside to invoke blessings for you in return for his morsel of food.But,not all things that hppen in this world are thorougly logical.Or else could someone explain to me how George Bush gets elected to the White house a second time.

The beggars are obviously not the most popular people around the temple.No poor soul likes being hankered after coming from a peaceful meeting.I'd rather they prefer the peace and quiet of himesh's songs.The priests are always on the alert from beggars.They never like competition.Understandably,as the common man's budget doesn't seem to fit an offering to both priests and beggars on the same day.Which is why they are always wary of these creatures.But working in the house of god always comes with certain 'Terms and Conditions Applied'.That is being good,kind,righteous et al.so the government steps in.Sometimes an irate havaldar would shoo off these guys ,and go on to be......err... for some offerings from fellow shopkeepers.All this while,a poor all powerful being watches jis creations display the full prowess of their mighty intellect.

As I was watching,the shopkeeper on the premises of the temple got terribly irritated with a few beggars.After a small argument,the head priest joined in and soon a crowd gathered.The beggars were left with no choice but to vacate their job for the day.As they left the shore,one-by-one, the last man stayed on for a while.He was a old blindman.After a while,he got to his feet,joined his hands and bowed the final time before the almighty(who i think was having his afternoon siesta)and decided to retire for the day.

As he walked away from the great house,he sang in his unique and rankling voice a song,that i had heard many times before.I do not know the entire song to heart,but the last couplet i heard stayed on in my ears.They were

" Anaathanchya Naatha Hari, Asa Dayavant
Vitthalachya Paayi veet,zhaali bhagyavant"

It roughly translates to this
"THe great god of the orphans (Hari) is so kind and munificent
that even the brick beneath his feet is liberated/ and hence is lucky"

The blind man saw the irony in the song.And the great god did too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Journey To The Deep Side Of my Heart

I settle down into my seat and turn over to the page of the book where i last stopped reading.the train slowly jerks into motion as I slip from a real to a virtually real world.A few minutes later,two tiny hands scratch at my knees.I do not look up,just nod negatedly and continue reading.They are stubborn business men.They tug at my elbow.I look up annoyedly.Two hungry,sleepless eyes stare back deploringly at me.And suddenly i am captivated.It is not always a very pleasant experience to look into someones eyes and feel what they feel.Not if it is hunger,pain and poverty.My hand hypnotically moves to a pocket and rummages for change.It comes out with a two rupee coin.I drop it into the expecting hands,and watch them gleefully pocket it.

I look around and find that she is not alone.Her two younger brothers trail along behind her,shyly and bashful.Together the sum of their ages might add up to 12 years,if i am right.I watch as she goes along to the next passenger and does what she does for a daily job.MY neighbour looks at me and says "You shouldn't give them money.Their parents force them to beg if the earn more."I look back at him.He looks like a mediocrely rich comfortable guy sitting in the train snacking on a Parle G.And the voices of my friends run through my head.I always was a sucker for emotion and passion.They always cursed me for thinking from my heart.I wondered if i could do that.Would that 'beggar girl' do that? Could she just think about herself? Could she do what she aims,or earn back a lost age of innocence and joy that might forever continue to haunt her?I wonder if my friends know that.I wonder if she cares,unlike them,that the sensex has just recovered from a bad day.does she know that Sanjay Dutt has been released on bail? Would it matter to her if the Indo-US nuke deal got through?I guess not.But she would rejoice in it ,that i am sure of.

She gets down at the next station.I follow my neighbour out to my destination platform.HE sits down on a bench and throws his remaining crumbs of biscuits down.Soon a few strays gather round and begin snifing him.He looks embarrassingly at me," I love dogs".I nod hesitatingly.The trio has just taken their position at the invisible side of the bookstall.The eldest sister ,puts her hand inside her torn dress and lifts out what looks like a wasted chapati.She unbiasedly divides it into three and distributes it to her younger siblings.The youngest one splits his share and offers it to a mother bitch and her pups that have taken guard near him.The boy hangs on playfully to the bitch's ears,while the pups gather round him.An irritated tug sends the boy cartwheeling backwards.He gets up,shakes his head and turns his eyes at me.soon,they gleam with a mischievious smile.

What world is this,i think? I am reminded of the Amitav Ghosh's words in 'The Hungry Tide': "What kind of people are these that are willing to sacrifice us for the sake of animals?Where do they live?Do they have families,children?Do they know what is being done in their name?It is as though the entire world has turned into an animal and our fault,the only one,is that we are still human".And i know i have fallen into one more of my rambles.

MY eyes shut into the darkness.And i hear a smile.A gentle,innocent smile that keeps growing till it is a laugh and does not stop.The laugh grows in tempo,baritone and manner and soon it has a derision to it.IT becomes the kind of laughter you laugh when your friend gets slapped by his GF.It keeps gaining momentum.And becomes a mad,evil cackle.One that keeps ringing in your ears,that advertise a jealousy,hatred and mockery at the hypocritic world that i live in.And then it stops.As abruptly as it began.The alarm goes off somewhere,and my mom nudges me to wakefulness.The next day has begun,and will soon end.Soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Freedom To Be - Aazadi Dil Ki

ON the night of our 61st year of independence,i sit in an enclosed room with the screen inches away from my face and wonder what is the hype all about.It is just another year.Well,at least for me.I am one of those guys who attended independence day anniversaries in school only b'coz of the chocolates.The best part was the teachers always thought that i was a fair kid and would distribute the things correctly,when i always ended up pocketing some of the packets.I never valued ideals much.For me the thought of people shedding their lives for their children to survive was a silly thought.Now,as i think back upon those years of innocence and carefree courage,i am thankful somebody did that.

I wasn't born anywhere near the troublesome days of India's history.Life has been very easy for me.I have never known hunger,strife or fear.My parents have struggled to keep my thankless soul well-fed,without letting me know what they were going through.So the idea of a freedom bought at the price of struggle is unknown to me.Freedom means a different thing to every person.To Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi it meant a non-british government.To Bhagat Singh it meant a secular socialist state.To you it might mean a Harley Davidson,tank filled and 25000 $ in cash.To someone else it might mean life,to me it might mean death.Though we all speak of it in a different manner,one thing is sure.We all need it.We love it like we love to live.

Freedom is a necessary essential a human being requires to be human.We were lucky enough to be born with it.Some still have to work it out,in order to achieve it.Men have shed blood ,lost lives ,fought their brothers to achieve it.All of us want it.But what do we do when we get it?The westerners often thought that a nation like ours,with its varied geographical,cultural,linguistic diversity would fall as soon as they leave us.And yeah,we didn't get freedom free.It was like those contracts with the greatest details hidden in a miniscule "Conditions Applied" in the end.We had riots,arson,poverty,famine.The british would have patted themselves for leaving this god forsaken country.But like the stubborn weed,that refuses to die after being denied nutrition we survived.We were lucky we had intelligent people at the helm,who refused to give up.Who were careful enough to put every single possible law into writing.Nehru was respected,Gandhi worshipped but there were a lot more unsung heroes who worked tirelessly to script the survival of this country post independence.As our nation now realises maturity in world politics,those people would smile from dusted shelves at their success.

Sure we have had riots.We have no dynamic infrastructure change since '47.We have lacked in developing literacy,reach to our most interior parts.But we have succeeded in protecting the most important gift that was given to us - FREEDOM.What is freedom?I searched for this answer for a long time today.I,like or unlike the most of you,have had a very comfortable childhood.I knoww not hunger,poverty or even pain.So how would i know what the value of freedom is?I learnt it in the most unconventional manner.

I met my friend at the railway station.I took his newspaper,opened it and found that the shiv sena had thrashed another weekly.I scoffed at the irony of the act being committed on the occassion of independence.He swore that these( i won't use the right words,i like my life too dearly)were people who interpreted independence the wrong way.Then it struck me.Freedom is not free-dom.It is liberty to do what you love.It does not necessarily mean that you can go and thrash any stupid nincompoop that you hate,but it allows you an opinion.NO matter who you are,what your sin is;regardless of caste,creed,gender and status your opinion is valued.That is freedom.To be able to express without fear,hesitation,or even remorse.To be respected as a human,valued as one and treated as one,for me that is freedom.

People have stayed on in this country not because we are the best place in the world with the cheapest cost of living,but because we have given them that power of freedom.The power to be right and the liberty to be wrong.And we will never give up this power for any other thing.And that is how our nation was formed.To put it in the words of a famous poet

" To be sowed,cared for,and shaped,
Generation after generation,until
It stays in our hands,in our eyes
And it is us and ours. "

Monday, July 23, 2007

Is Good Journalism,Bad Business?? A comment

There was a time when news meant newspapers or the occassional broadcast on doordarshan.But those times have long gone.The last time i ever saw doordarshan on my television was........... Ok..I don't remember.The point is news today has long gone from being the first thing after coffee to the everything we watch in between advertisements.I remember waking up early in the morning to get the newspaper before my dad in order to look at the photo of sachin in his glorious form on the sports page...Well,that was ten years ago.

Today news channels are on an adrenalin high.They go buzzing off for everything insanely silly from an eloped couple to bhoots coming to town on hearing himesh's music.I really do not understand the fact that News channel editors do find it ethically,morally right to put these things on television.Not even the 'high class' news channels have refrained from this fast catching hunt for TRPs.So it came as a pleasant change as i watched india's best journalists discuss this new phenom of journalism in front of a very capable panel.

The Indian Express is often regarded as the most respected newspaper in this country by aesthetic readers.Others like me prefer 'The Times Of India' out of habit.I remember my dad bringing a copy of the Times along with the Express.He would read the Times,for compulsion of habit and the Express for politically relevant news.But recently even newspapers have fallen prey to the 'entertainment' factor.

As I watched our 'exiting president' APJ ABdul Kalam question the relevance of journalism's role in the upliftment of 22% of our population which are below the poverty line,he was almost rebutted by an answer by the editor of the Times Of India.What I vaguely heard over the confusion was that the 22% do not read newspapers,watch TV,or get podcasts.How is the media ever going to get to them.A very pertinent question indeed.But i wish the rep for such a reputed newspaper had looked back a little on our past before commenting so harshly.The path to our independence has been paved with the efforts of responsible journalism.Raja Ram Mohan Roy' Samvad Koumudi is probably one of the earliest reference to good journalistic behavior.And i doubt whether people in those times had television,i pods,least of all they hardly were literate.

Another question that came to the fore during this debate was that whether or not the indian media was losing its touch with relevant and responsible journalism. The question was raised by the ever wily LK Advani.The man sure caught Rajdeep Sardesai on the wrong foot.Even Barkha Dutt tried her chances as she pushed rajdeep to the fore to answer that question.What rajdeep said indeed surprised me.I hold him in high esteem for being a good journalist all these years,but his answer referred that he was more a businessman now.He replied that he did not work in a vaccuum.He referred to his channel being the biggest news breaker this year.So what if some of the news are completely stupid.They only act as spice in the middle of a hearty meal.That answer was good enough for Sitaram Yechury, an uncomfortable communist sitting there to raise some better thoughts.Was it not possible for the media to do the same kind of strive towards its excellence in the field by eliminating such irrelevant news?

The question still remains what is relevant and what is irrelevant news??Some journalists raised the argument that regional newspapers have gone to dogs.This they attribute to the fact that the televison media is showing all sorts of news which 'titillate' the reader who looks to his newspaper in the same way as he watches TV.So,publishers who do print relevant news find it 'bad business' to keep on doing their job as other newspapers make hay while printing gossips.The answers to which ranged from the eternal 'Times have changed' to 'we give the reader what he wants'.So,my question wud have been,If the reader indeed is going wrong in asking for stupid stuff;isn't it the job of the media-the conscience keepers- to rectify them and bring them on track with good,responsible and impact creating news?

I might be considered an ambitious yet stupid young man.I do not now how the industry works,or how it should work.I have no experience in the field that i dream of going into.But one thing i know for certain...Integrity,independence and courage are things a journalist lives on.That is what my teacher taught me.Compromising on any one of these factors for any reason-be it money,fame or popularity-is despicable.And i wonder if those news casters knew that.For they were sitting beneath the picture of one of the founding fathers of Modern Indian Journalism.

Ramnath Goenka is a legend in the news circles.I hardly know anything other than his big fight with Reliance(remember GURU),his crusade against Indira Gandhi.MY father told me that Goenka was not known for his founding of the Indian Express.When Mrs Indira Gandhi declared eemergency all across the country,most newspapers next morning carried out an 'official' press release declaring the story of it.The Express didn't.What Mr ramnath Goenka did established his fame in the annals of Indian journalistic history.The readers of the Express received a completely black manuscript.Nothing was ever printed in those pages,except for a few words at the beginning of the front page.The words read

"Let Truth Prevail"

That is journalism.Fearless,true and morally right.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Father's Son

I know u people will be bored to death if i go through this self pitying thought one more time,but then i don't have anything else to write about.This morning i got up and had a duel with my pa.Well,that would have been usual except he said one thing that made me think again.What he said was," You are hardly the son iexpected you to be."



To analyse this we have to go way back in the past.Back to my father's past, to be more accurate.He was a very scholarly person.Of course,I haven't seen that myself.But that is what all my relatives tell me.He was the kind of mamma's boys that sit in the first benches,raise their hands to answer every one of the teacher's questions,never miss class.I beleive that is why he scowls at me everytime i am late for the first lecture(whoever gets up and reaches college for a 7 am lecture....don't even think about answering).I also heard that he was the equivalent of the students' union leader.His friend once told me,'that college might have run on a sunday if your father wanted it to.'scholar,leader,class representative....Man,i wish i was all this.On second thoughts...Nah!!



Now that is my father.Back to me.What shall i say about myself.I am every disciplinary parent's nightmare.I am never on time for my lecture,never ever study my lessons(unless u call makiing chits studying),am as dirty as is physically possible,have failed my exams twice in a row,talk convincingly,and lie even better.Prodigious talent,you may say.But my father fears me like he does cholera.Hey, I ain't superman.



I know how dissappointed he is even though he tries hard not to show it.I know,for i have been there all the time.I can imagine the joy on his face when i was born.I can picture him,holding me in his arms,promising that he would raise me like no parent had ever done.I can remember those days when he would come after doing his job and still help me with the hmework.He is a great dad.Except that he just does not know when to stop beleiving in his son.



He knew i was an average student when my ranks kept declining after the 5th standard.He knew i was way too weak in maths when i almost nearly failed in my 9th standard terminal exams.Yet,not once did he tell me that he thought that.He still continued to beleive in my ability.I wasted a lot of his money on waste pursuits.Like the cycle i bought,cost him 2000 of his salary,and never used.I still remember my mother's scolding for that.But he never wrinkled his face.



I know i have failed him in a lot of respects and that has hurt him.I know he still belives that i might be his best investment yet.But i just can't get myself to do things he wants me to do.Maybe i am too selfish,maybe i just am not sensible enough.Or maybe i just am too stubborn.But one thing i know for sure.He is still going to come home tonight and ask me if i did anything useful today.And i know that he still beleives in meAnd i hope he'll continue to do that,for that is the only reason i try to change myself.Maybe because i want to succeed in life,or maybe because i am 'My Father's Son'

Monday, July 16, 2007

Peak hour.

I am not an adventurous person.NO sirree! I am a self confessed couch potato.I do not like to embark on adventures to places unknown or even have a remote desire to conquer a distant land,unless it is inside 300 sq ft of my existence.So when i landed at my cousins place this saturday,I was least expecting an adventure.But as it all goes,i did have an adventure.

My cousin is quite a dude.We call him 'Junky'.that might explain it all.So he is one guy who cannot sit back and relax at home,even on a Sunday.He goes all out and plans a trekking trip.though not everybody in the 'youth department' was ready.Every body had something else to do,i was the only one left.So he caught up with some of his friends,and decided to drag me along.I said already,thet i am not the adventurous guy.But that does not mean i am not a guy who take chances.So i went along,half to redeem my courage in the eyes of family and partly to just get a change.

The plan was to head to the Karnala Bird Sanctuary,far away from the dirt cauldron of mumbai and its honking cars.So we woke up at 6 am on a sunday morning,caught a train to panvel(by 8:30).We picked up the other guys at vashi.They were known people,in the sense that i had seen them before but did not quite know them.So off we went.Four amateurs,high in the toxic fumes of adrenalin,in search of adventure.

We caught an ST bus from panvel to Karnala.By the time we got there,it was 11 am.So we braced ourselves for the trek.I had been to Karnala once,long back.That time i had found it comparatively easy.Well,it is easy even now,except if you know which way you are going.We walked to the "First Base" pretty easily.The atmosphere was as serene as a mumbaikar could hope for.If you can oversee the Bisleri bottles lying around and the place,the place is nature's haven.We left for our target,the fort at the peak.

The place was covered in lush greenery,result of the rains.The clear skies added to the attraction of the greenery.We stopped by a brook on the way and dipped ourselves in cool,fresh,unbottled water.Then lightning struck!! we spotted a narrow,rocky path swerving behind the place from where the brook was sprinkling from.With two in favor,and two against the vote for that path was a stalemate.Then,'junky' challenged for an adventure.And we fell for it.

From then on,what we did would never be called 'trekking'.Not in my vocabulary.It was tripping,climbing,skidding and hanging.The more we climbed,the steeper the climb became.After one hour and no peak in sight;not that we could see it with all the towering trees and creepers above us.Till we came to a point where there was no route ahead.In front of us stood a couple of huge boulders,cut through by flowing water.Up ahead,we could not see any path.Our mobiles were still catching signals,but they were useless if nobody knew where to find us.We decided to put our courage to task.We started scaling the rock-face.I grabbed a stout creeper hanging over the rock,slid my left foot into a crevice grabbed hold of the jagged eedge and pulled myself up.The process included a spasm in my stomach.I made it up.And so did the others.The path from above was worse.The mud was slippery.Even 'Adidas' shoes couldn't hold forte.We pushed and grimed our way through the sticky,slippery and steep slope.

Time was passing us by.Our reserve of water was fast emptying,without ending our unquenchable thirst.Our clothes were discolored by the mud,Hands were so grimy,that even dettol couldn't have washed it off.Then we reached another 'Dead End'.This time it was a group of bent over trees blocking our way.By now,the crew was tired,hurting and seriously doubting that we were on the right track.We looked around for voices but heard nothing other than the scream of an eagle overhead.But we never gave up hope.we bent over,backpacks and all,and searched our way out of the bushes.

That might have been the most sensible thing we did.Coz right ahead of the bushes lay a rock hewn path,which looked naturally civilised.In the sense that it bore signs that somebody had been here.Though the path was steep,our new found faith fuelled the remaining energy to banish our exhaustion.

The only signs of civilisation that we saw was a fifty feet beneath the peak.We spotted two foreigners who asked us the way back.But all my excitement of reachhing the peak was diminished by the fact that it was so crowded.It looked like a bustling udipi hotel.Though this was not the end of our journey,the fort lay 500 metres in front of us.Its flag fluttering high,inviting one and all.

We marched on.The fort greeted us with a medeival embrace of silence.As i stood above the edge of the fort's remaining walls,and peered down into the vast expanse of greenery,i felt fear,power,happiness and sorrow.All at the same time.
Fear- for having looked at how high i have come,and where i was standing.
Power - for having accomplished this in the face of every obstacle.
Happiness - for discovering that there is something within me that symbolises a fighter
Sorrow - for the thought that i have to leave this place to be ravaged over by humans like me in search of an adventure.

After admiring the beauty for a while,we started our downward trek.In our bags we carried every garbage that we had used.But the mud,sweat nad grime,that we carried in our shirts and shoes were priceless.They were the signs of our struggle.I might leave this place with an very dirty apparel and aching joints,back and musscles(that might carry over to the next few days);but i promise i will be back here someday.Not tomorrow,not the next sunday,but someday.I have to find out if nature can survive its battle against the heartless adventures of mankinds industrial zealots.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Value Of Education

School years are probably the most important years of a students' life.He learns almost everything in his school days.From cheating in the examinations,forging parents' signatures on leave letters,escaping homework....well, almost everything.But there are things they never learn there.IN fact something they never learn is the value of education.For most of us go to schools out of compulsion.At least,I did.The reason is obvious.Who likes to go with a overloaded bag to a place where you will be locked for six hours while the sun shines outside.

When i left my school,i felt liberated.Unlike most people i never feared losing my school friends in college.But this is not about all that,This is about a strange incident that i was witness to a few days back.

I was sitting on the grounds of my school,watching kids play the same ol' game of cricket.I guess somethings never change.Some of my teachers spotted me there and called me in.School had not yet started,and most of them had just arrived.I went in through the entrance that used to shelter me during rains.I had a brief conversation spent mostly trying to convince them of what my academic reality was.Just then the 'princy' arrived.Well,she is the new 'princy',back then she used to teach me science.She smiled and asked me to come in.I tried to escape,plead and excuse myself.But it isn't easy when you have been a former favorite.(Unbeleivable.Beleive It)

I was sitting in the principal's office,when a lady entered.She was leading a little girl by her hand.The girl might have been 5-6 years old.She was dressed neatly,a bag hanging behind her back and hair partitioned in two ponytails.She was the kind of girl you look at and say "cho chweet" to.She looked a little scared,perhaps apprehensive of the dominant chair in front of her.From the first moment they entered,I knew what it was.Admission.MY principal asked me to wait outside.I obliged.

There was a huge gap in the door,which was half opened,through which i watched the entire proceedings.Teh girl kept looking at her mother all the time.The mother meanwhile,was no less scared .Well, after all this was a question pertaining the future of both of them.The principal knew this and was trying to be affable.She started by speaking in hindi to the mother.Then switched to english to the child.After a gentle prod by her mother,the child replied in as good an english as you could expect from her.after a while,i assume hon.madam chose to grant the kid admission.She turned to the mother and expressed of the same in fluent english,probably a force of habit.As it turned out,the mother was illiterate.No wonder then that she blanked.It was then the moment came.

The helpless mother first looked at the madam,then at the kid.The madam did not grasp the situation so fast,as the kid did.She explained to her mother what was to be done.That moment has left and indelible mark on my heart for the last few days.

IN that fleeting moment,the little girl learnt the value of education.She might have not learnt it,if her teachers used the rod.Not even if her father;like mine; shrieked at her for years to come.She learnt the value of her education,the price of her literacy in that moment when her illiterate mother looked around helplessly to try and know what was to be done in order to get her little girl in school.I doubt that she will ever forget her mother's helpless moment.

I was never a bad student.But yet,i became one.Not because nobody told me the importance of education,but because everybody did.That little girl just reiterated to me what my teachers tried to drill in my head.Except she knew the value of education better.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Good,The Bad And The Ugly

It is about six o clock in the morning.The sky is still dark as it ought to be on a rainy day.My clothes are wet from walking in the drizzle.Yet that does not stop me from grabbing the window seat.MY next seat neighbour is gnarling owing my blatant refusal to down the window shutters.The chill wind searing at my face is the only thing that helps me keep awake on this journey through ennui in the mornings,as i get to college.

About five stations from my home,a very old man staggers into the train.He looks like a lost fragment from a very ancient past.HE struggles to balance his frame on his two legs and the umbrella-cum-walking stick.The gyrations of the train add to his discomfort.I get up and help him to my seat.I ask him where he is headed to,and wondering what such an old man is doing at this hour in a mumbai local train alone.He tells me he has to get down at kurla.I ask him if he is alone,for which i receive an answer in the affirmative.Me next passenger,who by now is awake,croons,"Chacha,you should not travel at this hour alone.The train is going to get very crowded in the next station.How do you think you are going to get down?" Though the question was very rude,it was poignant.I wondered what the old man was thinking when he got in.

The train is chugging at a steady pace theough locales which have begun to stir.A steady queue of people 'sitting on the tracks' is visible.The crowd inside has quadrupled in the last few stations.The ocassional squabbles have begun.The old man meanwhile is asleep.I look at him.He looks to be about eighty,at least on the better part of seventy.He is dressed in a white kurta as wrinkled as his face.His knee-length dhoti is dirty.He rests his hand on his long umbrella,the old kind.I wonder who he is.Maybe he has escaped the insults and travails of his house.Or he could be a destitute.Or maybe he isjust a newly arrived migrant.Suddenly he startles to consciousness.He looks around,and is slightly terrified of the airless vaccuum that he is caught in.He looks at me and asks if kurla is past.I negate him.After a few minutes of sitting on the fence he asks me where i am getting off.

I am caught in a fix.The old man just told me if it was possible for me to help him get down at kurla.I was already late for my class.Not that i had ever made it in time.BUt going out of my way to help an unknown septuagenerarian through the merciless mumbai crowd would be a herculean task.What if he gets injured while i try to push him through that crowd.I don't want to get into trouble.I decided it was best to slip away while the oldie was asleep.Look,I ain't very proud of this thing,but i have certin limitations.

So VDVHr arrives,and i push my way through the crowd.I land on the platform.In those few seconds,of my feet touching solid ground and the train settin into motion again;My heart went through turbulence.I was still conteplating on what i should do.THen in a flash,i decided.I got in.Pushed my way through the crowd.I don't know how i did it,but i reached the compartment.The seat was empty.Then i saw a glimpse of the dhoti standing out like a pigeon in the middle of a pack of wolves.I pushed and shoved my way through to it.

The old man is right there.He is supported on his legs by a young boy my age.I guess,he must have been in the compartment at that time.I might not have noticed him.He looks at me and smiles.The old man says,"Looks like you forgot me".I apologise sheepishly.The station comes and we help him get down.We ask him if he would find his way from here.He says yes.I trust him,I have no other choice.

Back in my lecture i think about my actions.I am not a very noble guy.In fact,if i could be classified as noble the world would be ruled by the devil.Yet I do know that what i did was despicable.Though i am a member of a NSS group,i did something that was thoroughly disgraceful.Abandon a helpless soul in his most distressed time.The boy who helped him,wasn't asked.He could've gone on without a feel of guilt in his heart.Yet he stepped up to do the job.Why?Because everyday we have a chance to do something .Make something happen.create a difference.I ran away from that chance.He didn't

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Black Board

It has been there for decades now.Ask the prof.He knows that.It is older than him.But its is seniority denied.A mute spectator of years and years of boring academia.If you thought that sitting for 48 minutes in an economics lecture was boring,imagine doing that for four long decades.Every single inch of its body is covered in chalk dust.Its framed edges are cracked.With some sides even sporting painfully etched hearts.But not a word it utters,not a sigh occassionally, or a grumble in between.It watches patiently as it has been doin for years.

My poor prof keeps droning on about micro and macro (economics),while we wander off into our sylvan world of daydreams.HE does not care.But it does.For it keeps on looking at each one of us sternly with disapproval.It knows of everything that has been taught,and of everything yet to be taught.It knows of poetry,Keats and Frost lie absorbed in it.Mathematics.Thousands of sums ahve been scrawled on its smooth black surface,only to be rubbed off and written on again.It has not missed a single lecture since it was hung in place.

History,it excels in.Every love story inside the class has taken place in front of its invisible eyes.Every clandestine meetings it knows of.It knows about the unspoken crush,and about the spoken ones that have been crushed.It knows of flings that lasted till the spring and of longer ones that endured winter.Secret meetings in an empty classroom are not possible as long a it is witness to them.But it is the most trusted secret keeper.It wont speak a word,or break anybody's heart.

It is omniscient.It knows who throws airplane onto the prof's back while he scrawls on the board.It also knows who copied from the front bencher during the examination.It has eyes that keep prying.The examiner can miss the culprit,but the culprit is not missed.But its benevolent heart won't allow it to disclose that information to the examiner.That would destroy a career.

Itis like that vast accumulation of knowledge that lies just behind you,but you never notice it.It is like that black pearl covered in chalk dust.Invisible to ordinary eyes,except those that ask earnestly.If keats was a college going student,his next ode would have included it.Alas,for the boorish human mind,it has no worth.Why you ask? Whenever my prof asks me an unanswerable question,he rebukes me with " Your mind is as empty as that blackboard".How i wish he was true.Except that the blackboard is so full that it can't reveal.Just like me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The gentleman's game

"So,We are seven in all!"

"No,six.I ain't playing."

The moment I uttered these nonsensicallytrue lines,every eye in the sorrounding turned to me.each one of them as menacing as the next in line.The cap stepped ahead.

The Scene : A game of cricket
The Place: My friend's colony compound
The purpose:whatever you might like

"Listen up H.We need men right now.And you are one of those that i expect to stand and put your hands up.",poor fellow sounded desperate.

"But I am not good at cricket." Yes.Unfortunately,that is true.

"I don't care.It is enough that you know to play.You are in" and then there were seven.

Honestly,I didn't know what was there to be so emotional about.It is just a goddamn game.But no,people here take everything else other than life seriously.So,we marched to the ground.Seven totally uninspiring and incompetent fools.Against a team,who wouldmilk us for 250 Rupees' if we lost....(which i guess is obvious).The captain was my friend,and i had hardly expected such boisterous reception when i landed at his house.I was immediately dissapointed to know that the joy was more out of finding his 7th player than on seeing a long-lost friend.

The captain of our rival team walks...nay,swaggers to the centre of the pitch.He is a pretty good player.I can deduce as much when a 6ft 2 guy with the perfect built walks near you.We are ready for the toss.The coin goes up,we call tail.And we win....the toss.

So jock looks at my freind(though i doubt i should call him that after all this) and asks

"New guy?Where did ya catch him?" right!from the Byculla zoo.Why?Do i look familiar.

"Oh!He is an old friend.Pretty good with the bat." What?????Wha the...who in.....why did.....AAArghhh!

My cap turns to me and throws his gloves to me."You open"

"But .....I am really not good at this."

" That is ok.We got backup." how reassuring,thanx a mile cap.

So i walk out to the field.The guy at the other end is as nervous as i am.I loosen up myself.check out the field settings.Take'my guard' and ask for divine intervention.

I would have posted the entire details of the match,but i guess the story of my batting is a summary of it all.We didn't have much fielding to do....OOpps!Did i give away the climax.

The first ball.A beauty.Pitches on good length.Has a late swing to outside offstump.I do the perfectly precise demo of 'how to leave such balls'

The second delivery.Pitches in line.On full.I dig deep and manage to keep it away from my stumps.

The third.It gets interesting from now on.Pitches short.Rises to my shoulder length on the offside.I rise up on my toes.Flash my blade at it.Sehwag style...the good lord bless him.The ball flies over third man.to the boundary.Rejoiced and jubilated,i look around.My runner is walking towards me like a zombie.My cap is staring open mouthed at me.The rest are happy.

The bowler is now furious.He runs into his work with renewed vigour.The fourth ball,is almost similar.The ball pitches in 'my zone'.I go for a straight drive.The ball just delays itself.It moves after i am fully into the shot.The next moment,a searing pain rises to my head from my ...eeehhhhmmmm area.I just can't breathe.

Now,I am furious.I get up.Take a deep breath,and ready for the next one.The ball is a 'lollipop'.
I just push it towards fine leg and scamper a single.

My partner lasts the next ball.I regain strike for the next over.

New bowler.Surprise...this is the cap himself.He looks menacing.He looks determined to take my wicket.He marks his runup

The first delivery.Pitches short and keeps rising.It is a BOUNCER!!!I duck,as best as i can.The ball ducks with me.Trick one.shit!I turn away.The ball smacks me on the side of my skull.I suffer a brain hammehorrage(Forgive the spelling).Bowler,comes right next to me.Apologises as if it were compulsory.walks happily back to his crease.

I get up.For a moment,I think i've lost my eyesight.But then,The keeper hands me my specs.I put them on.Wiggle my head and get on.Every anthem from "The Eye Of The Tiger" to "We Will Rock You" starts playing in my head.No pain,no pain.that is all i say to myself.

By now i've faced six deliveries.An over.This is the longest time i've stayed on crease...alive.The blood in me gushes.

The next ball.A widish good length .I cut it through the covers.It races,so do i.We get a two for it.By now,my teammates have regained confidence in me.I have too.They are cheering me.

I am now swaggering at the bowler.He is calm.The next ball is abeauty.It pitches almost perfectl in his'zone' near offstump.I am drawn to it.It moves,not out but in.Right through my gates.I try to adopt some defense,but can only swing the bat at it in a visibly awkward manner.My middle stump...The stump goes flying to the keeper.It is vindication for him.My short lived heroics come to an end.

The rest is history.My entire team scored 29 runs of 8 overs.6 of which belonged to me.We were releived off the field in 4 overs.Need i add more.Yes,of course i do.

I do not like to brag about myself.But the antics of mine that day,convnced me that i can play cricket.That stupid,awfully boring and impossible game that my dad criticises me for not being able to play.Oh!!just one problem,he won't beleive me if i told the truth.So should I .....maybe add a bit more masala........?don't worry,he loves stories.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Raindrops are falling on the hill

It has been pretty dull since morning.The atmosphere is weighed down by a certain expectancy.It is the annual monsoon arrival.Though it is still not monsoon season,the good lord understands our suffering under the unforgiving sun,and does send us a few coolers here and there .......under he table.this is one such day.

The signs are predictable.There is heavy humidity in the air.Grey clouds cover the sun up.The wind zips around wth new zest.But the most beautiful and assuring sign is that of the earth.As soon as you know that a drizzle is due,there arises an most aromatic and pleasant smell that every human has loved at some point of his life.The smell of wet earth.If heaven had a smell to go by,this would be it.

Everyone is out on the streets,including me.Kids have already started running around.As though wishing the wind to move faster.cycles are brought out.The kids are now speeding around streets ,racing ith each other.Those less fortunate,are even more happy.it doesn't matter if the arrival of monsoons announces wet floors,cold food and even drenched sleep.They are as happy as anybody else.I walk down a street in such muted celebration.Beggars are moving around happier.The few coins which show that their collection has been lower than usual,do not know about happiness as much as they do.One walks up to me and says,"Baarish aane waala hai na??(Its going to rain,isn't it?)".I only nod.

It has been a hour.The wind still blows around.The cloud cover refuses to move.People begin to wonder if this is a false alarm.And just when you are ready to give up hope.It begins.A sweeping hush falls all over the place.The rain is a star when it arrives.I look up,just in time.The first pearly,transparent drop,falls onto my glasses and goes splat.Soon there are dozens of it falling all over the place.

Kids come rushing out into the open,followed by paranoid mothers calling after them.Shopkeepers take a break,and step out of their guarded 'gallas',and enjoy the moment unadulterated.A few oldies step out,under the excuse of trying to stop their grand-children fro getting drenched.But beleive me,under that pouring sky;the smile of a two year old is as wide a s that of an octagenerarian.I am drenched.But i am happy.So is everybody under this blue,blue sky.

Then it stops.Leaving us with watered hearts.the sn steps out from behind the curtains of the passing clouds.As though he had been witnessing every one of our childish antics.He smiles brightly,and finds it being reciprocated.Ironic,that a few days back the same smile was being frowned upon.But he knows.He knows how weird we are.He knows that half a month into the monsoon,we'll be cowering under broken umbrellas when the rain comes.We shall run into buildings in the road,to protect our clothes from getting wet.We shall wish the rain to go away,and sit inside pining for the warm glow of the sun.But for now,he doesn't mind if we sing praises for the Great Indian Monsoon.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bridge to The Lost World

It is a dark,moody evening;fast descending unto the night.A pale,orangeish glow is spattered across the heavenly cenotaph above me.I stand there watching faces melt away into the crowd in the street below.The aroma of street foods rise upwards in the humid air.A train stops at the station,while another departs on its journey.A horde of human bodies exit the station.Grimed in sweat,hunched by worries and on the constant lookout to escape them.

I am standing on the bridge that connects the eastern and western parts of my town.From where i stand,a long corridor of the bridge stretches past me on either side.The railway station is just below catering to hundreds of passengers,who pass on oblivious to its service.the lights are coming on in the streets below.The fair has just begun.

The bridge is home to a lot of different kinds of creatures.Beggars,Romeos,couples and the lost.The beggars are all but gone by now,except for a few who are counting their daily earnings.The place is now abound with lovey-dovey couples and crazy delinquents.One such pair of lovebirds stands a few yard to my left,cooing away happily in each others arms.A man stands puffing smoke rings into the air on my right.Maybe a metaphorical symbol of his life and dreams,rising high in the air only to vanish.All this while normal people pass us by.Often throwing a derisive look at us.I don't mind.As long as they do not know my name,I am fine.Anonymity has a certain power.One that turns Peter Parker into Spiderman.

It is late at night by now.The streets are starting to get empty.Those who have homes,go home and sleep.Those who do not,step into the streets and are lost forever.The bridge is now occupied by such ghosts.A couple of cops come by on their daily rounds,curse,take money and go away.The ghosts get back to their nightly occupations.My body decides its time to go home.My mind......It is lost somewhere in the middle.

For me,this is the beginning of an end.For them,it is just beginning.It is a hauntingly attractive place to be.This bridge.The closest definition of this could be 'The Lost World'.There is one thing common to each one of us on this bridge.We are all lost in the middleof something,somewhere.And we are all confusesd about which way to go.Between East and West.Between Good and Bad.Between Success and Failure.Between Life and Death.it is a thin line.But we all walk it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Confusions of a lost mind

Walking beneath the huge and gothic sructure of the Mumbai's CST terminus,i feel strangely out of place.This time though I am not alone.I am walking behind three guys.The only creatures in my book, who i can classify under the title of freinds.We go back a five years in the past.They know me from the first day i entered college as a gawky teenager .Back then,as now,I still felt out of place.

We are as eclectic a group of people as you can hope to meet.Eac one of us was,is and will be different.Till the end of time.Though today i hold them in much more esteemed eyes than when i saw them 4 years back.As we walk out of the station,past the bombay High court and a thousand cricket playing kids at the maidan,I can't help but wonder at the change.

I hit off wth them from day one.We were the 'outcaste five'.Outcaste because we were so not 'cool'.each one of us came from the middle class.The economical denominator even negated out cultural diversities,though we all belong to the same part of the country.The western part.Three of us are gujaratis.I put that in a common term,as i still am unable to recognise the various lingualdifferences in them.One is from near rajasthan and madhya pradesh.I belongto the south,but as i have spent 20 years of my life here,i think i am an eligible mumbaikar.Together we were the 'obnoxious middle benchers'.

But i was much more outcaste than they were.At least they were extrovertive and suave.I was neither.I still remember watching their bags after class as they ran out and tried to show off in front of the girls.I thought them to be silly.I guess i had grown up too fast,too soon.and then when i decided to become a kid again,the world looked at me and said,"Grow up".It was as though i was caught in the ultimate complexity of youth - caught between the danger of growing old and the immaturity of staying young.

"Hey,buck up.Sloth!!",they call out to me.We are now walking past Eros in churchgate.Nice name for a theatre.The roman god of love - attraction guaranteed.The first time i bunked lectures was with these guys.We had gone to a silly theatre in kurla,and watched what i'd call one of the most degenerate films made by our country.though they thoroughly enjoyed the skin flick.Boys,i had thought.Today,i am the boy in the group.each one of them is a man stepping out into theworld knowing its complexities and threats.While i ponder,arge and discuss on what it would be like.

We are still different from each other.Even in our career choices.Three of our group chose to graduate in commerce,one went in for hotel management.I,meanwhile,chose to stay in my 12th standard.Today,except me,they have moved on.One works in the hustle and bustle of the Bombay Stock Exchange as an intern,Other is employed at a CA's firm.The hotel management guy is going off to ITC in Kolkata,the leftover dude has his father's business.I,stay where i am - lazy,stupid and stubborn.

What happened?where did i go wrong?why haven't i started my career yet?As we walk along the promenade of the Queen's Necklace after buying the tickets for the movie,my mind is still stuck on my failure to be something.My friends call out to me.It is still a long way to the end.I ask the nearest guy ,"How long is it going to take?".

He takes one long look at me,smiles and says,"Just Keep Walking"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Insomnia

It is very late in the night.Well,morning if you read the clock the right way.The only person stupid enough to roam around in this unearthly time of the hour is me.The stillness that envelops me is overpowering.I wonder what i am doing down here instead of snoring in my bed.The owl on the tree near the compound gate seems to wonder the same thing.

I don't know for how long i stayed awake.All night i kept twisting and turning in the quilt spreaded out on the floor(my bed) of our one room apartment.After quite a few desperate and unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep,I woke up.The only sounds in the room were that of the toilet tap dripping and my dad's snoring.Then something quirky awoke inside me.They say strange things happen to you at such times.I decided to go downstairs and enjoy the moonlight.I rose as silently as i could,picked up my mobile and my note and headed for the door.Just as i was turning the lock,my dad gave a slight shuffle.I stopped dead and stared at him,feeling like a runaway bride before the day of marriage.

The descent down the corridor was scary.In the dark(Da society is saving electricity),it resembles a spooky dungeon.The light from the mobile wasn't enough to guide me through the place.Good thing,i was barefeet.Or the sound of my tripping would have awoken my 'friendly' neighbours and presented me with embarassment.Not that i am not used to it.

The place was empty.As empty as my brother's head.But there was also something mystical around it.It is amazing,how a less-than-ordinary housing colony is transformed into something mysteriously attractive with the fall of night.The cold breeze fluttered a few leaves as it floated across the deserted complex.Not a light stirred amidst the windows.All and sundry were deep in their sojourns with fantasies.I was feeling exihilirated.

After an hour the motionless silence was exciting me.There seemed to arise a suppressed energy inside me.I wanted to scream as loudly as i could to shatter this impenetrable silence.But i knew i shouldn't,so i couldn't.I sat near the watchman's cabin.He was asleep.I don't blame him.My mom said,"only people with lots of money and secrets don't sleep at night".The watchman didn't seem to have either.He was a hardworking man with little cash to spare and an open heart.Just like my dad sleeping on the third floor.So much for class divide.

The warm,humid air was making me sweat.I looked into the mirror hung outside the cabin(w'man beleives that if you sleep with your face to the mirror,you will be captured in it forever).I stare into it.For that moment,i am scared.Boy do i need a haircut?I look like a cross between Jim Morrison and Lennon.

The air around me is suddenly abuzz.The dawn seems close at hand.Birds are beginning to stir in their tree-houses.The sky has started to change into a recognisable blue.I decide to head up home.I switch on the Fm airwave in my mobile.and Billy Joel talks to me

In the middle of the night,
I go walking in my sleep,
To the jungle of the true,
To the river so deep.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The date that I almost could have gone.

Well,life has been hard on me for the last two weeks.The most exciting thing that I did is also the most stupid thing.My mom is mad at me for not doing the house chore,dad is mad at me for not doing a part-time job,and I am mad at myself for blowing the best chance that I could have got.I guess there are some people in everybody's life whom you meet only whenyou are depressed.People who are probably born to annoy you.I have quite a few in my life.She is one of them.

"Hii!! What are you doing here?",she says in her annoyingly sweet voice.

"Uhhh....eating.I guess that is what peoplelike me do???" I hadn't expected to see her here.

"You could be a little cheery for a change,ya know?",she snaps.

"Not with ya around.You found me by accident or by purpose??"

"Well, guess what you'd like?I'd like a masala dosa.",she turns to the waiter hovering above me."You sound as sour as you were during that bhelpuri episode",comes the next quip.

Boy,I so remember that.It was,is and will be the singularly most embarassing thing that i have ever done.Bicker with a girl in the middle of the street.It was the year before last.One of the most depressing periods of my life.I had flunked my 12th boards twice in a row,my boss at the day job was pissed off at me,dad was totally upset and mom was going through hi-blood pressure.I was living hell,and she rubbed iodised salt into my wounds.Every one of her projects at my comp class would be selected,and mine disregarded.It was one of those'effing-days';to borrow a phraseology.My friend offered to take me for a free treat,but didn't have the money and I ended up paying for it.But just as i was about to dig into my first spoon,someone bumps ito me and sends my plate spiralling at the speed of light from my hand to the platform.What followed was the most embarassingly hilarious event of my life.

It was her again.Giggling,gaggling in all her petite,prettiness with her friends.any other boy in my place would have actually utilised the opportunity,But i had some other plans.I tapped her on the shoulder,mind it tapped her.

"don't you think you owe me an apology??'',I scowled in hindi.

"What??? ",she lookeed quizzically at me.

"Well,you just spoiled my 10 bucks.The least you could do is apologise".By now,the devil was inside me.

"Oh!!sorry,it was just an accident.No need to be all angry.",she reasoned.

"Accidents don't happen for free,ya know!!",.Man,was i cheap.

"Excuse'moi??",she crooned

"ten rupees,that is what you cost me right now..Pay up".By now my poor friend was embarrassedly tugging me away.

"Where do they make cheap-skates like you?",she snapped back,understandably.

"The same place where they make you".You couldn't have held me back with a titanium barricade that day.

"At least I have more money",was her wise remark.

"Good for me.now pay up."I was out of my blistering mind,now if i think of it.

"Here have a twenty..and guess what.Keep the ten as a tip.'',Then she turns to my friend and says,"I know institutions that take care of people like these.I'll give you their numbers if you want."

I would have choked the royal air out of her lungs if it weren't for my friend.Most of my family won't beleive this if i told tem.But this happened.In the middle of a damn,bustling street.

"You aren't eating ?Lost appetite?",she snaps me out of it.

"UHH no.Just that...I am sorry for that" the faster it is out,the better.

"what???",then it dawns on her,"Ohhh...never mind.You were going through a bad phase.Anyways,wanna join me at a party now??",she ends it in a strange way.

"NO",I stutter.

"C'mon.Show some civility.It is not some unknown place,it is rahul's Bday."she answers before
adding,"rahul???ur comp partner.???"

"UHh...No thanx.I..I'd rather go home now.It is time.",I still am thinking.

"Ok.Dnt regret it later"

Ohh by the way,wish rahul for me."

"Yah sure",was her last quip.

As i step out of the eatery,I am still thinking.Should I have said yes.It is not everyday that I am asked out by a GIRL.But the other part says,Remember how strange it would be.For you two to walk into a room full of people from your class,together.two days have passed,I am still arguing about it.The date that I almost could have gone.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Alone

I step out of my house.The stairs in the corridor are empty.Behind these latticed,snaking corridors i've spent most of my childhood and youth.And yet,not a sound speaks to me now.All way down,they look upon me as they do upon anybody else.As a stranger.I walk alone.

It is late evening.The sun is taking its last sigh.Birds are returning to their nests.the sky seems melancholic in its own way.The dogss are raucously howling their song.Nor a soul lookd up to me.Not a bied chirps my way.No leaf stirs from their branches.I walk alone.

The road spreads ahead of me to welcome the workers coming home.I see an old friend speeding home.Another aunty ,her grocery bag overflowing,trundles past me.The worry of her son's exams is writ large on her face.They do not glance at me.cars speed past me,accompanied by the rickshaws.The street lamps flicker to life.I walk alone.

The markets have sprung to life.Hawkers are yelling around their wares.Curious shoppers check them out,while the experienced ones pick the right stuff.they are both arguing about the peices.The sweetmeat shop is crowded.Children run about happily ahead of their parents.I walk alone.

There are people all around me.families moving around in groups.A father carries his son on his shoulders,while his wife holds the hand of her daughter.I spot a few familiar faces on the road.Friends accompanied by their friends.Trying out a new dish at the street corner.The hotels are filled with couples sipping on a single milkshake,cooling off.Boys and girls of all ages,travelling in packs.Laughing and enjoying their way out.I walk alone.

I turn home.I pass my school.where i spent 8 cherished years of my life.Where i made my first friends,my first enemies.I found mentors,allies and knowledge within its walls.Yet it stares back at me coldly.As empty as its heart.No soul stirs awake within its windows.I move on.I walk alone.

Thr kids are playing near the garage.My neighbourhood kids are playing with them.I smile at them,and get a similar reply.But none is warm enough to crack the ice in my heart.they carry on playing.I walk alone.

I step back into the empty corridors leading to my house.They are dark,black.The power hasn't come back yet.NO door is open to show me light.No voice asks me to watch the next step.No hand guides me through the dark corridors.I walk alone.

I ring the bell of my house.My mom opens the door.She scolds me for not telling her where i was going.MY dad is back too.He asks me where i was.I tell him.I had gone out for a walk.Alone.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nothing Official About It

It is a difficult time these days for students.With the vacations coming to an end and the looming threat of returning to the routine mess of school/college beginning to peek its head,kids are irksome.So am I.I take the honor to inform you that I have just taken my admission into the Second Year Bachelorship of Arts.I am lucky to have been taken once more.But what i intend to narrate is not th admissione but the journey to get it.

After receiving the astounding and fantastically unbeleivable success in my final exams,I thought my parents would be a little appreciative of me.But all I got in return was "You sure didn't copy??".right.So much for hard work.The next two days went by in the joyful wishing of friends and neighbours.then came the D-day.Admission.The night before admission has always been difficult for me.That owes its origin to the fact that I am not the most orderly humans amongst you.Often my preparations for the documents happen in real chaotic fashion.I would dive into my dark,cavernous shelf and try to emerge with all documents from inside it.Many of them would hide themselves in the most oblivious fashion.and more often than not,my xerox copies would have been used by my mother as covers for her 'pakodas'.So after spending about 6 hrs in the previous night it would be really bad if you wake up the following morning and find out that somethingis missing.All this done,I got into the train hoping nothing would go missing on the journey to the college.

The management of the college has only one opportunity to extract revenge for the last year.Therefore,they are in the most invincible form on admission day.As i got into the prayer hall with my friends i was early.Beforehand there were certain news that we had to pay the fee in Demand Draft.I,obviously,had remained closed ears to that.I had carefully brught cash to the college in the hope that they would accept it.In the corridor to the hall,we were accosted by some of our 'long lost' teachers.Oe of them caught us by the scruff of our necks and demanded to know our results.Seeing mine,she gave me a deep incisive look.As we alked on,she was still looking at me.c'mon guys,can't a boy like me pass?Anyways,I got to the hall and joined the long,snaking line to the clerks table in order to get my form examined.As my turn came,the clerk looked up.he was a bald pated.heavily mustachioed man of fifty with a evil look in his eye.I gave him my form,hoping that it would be right.He took a long look at it.He stopped at my surname,and asked me to spell it.It is quite embarassing to spell my surname,we south indians do have quite a few miles to our name.After the dreadfully long name,he said ok.Hapily I went down to the office to pay and get myself enrolled.I encounered another long line of haggled and harassed students before me.I spent about fifteen minutes before i reached the counter.As i reached out to pay the fee,the clerk informed me of his inability to accept cash.What impeccable timing!I immediately had to rush out in search of a bank that would beleive me and offer me a Demand Draft.

The catch in the situation was that the draft would have to be issued by a nationalised bank.There are few nationalised banks around our college.One refused to allow me in saying they issue drafts only at 2 pm.I guess my mom's theory of "RAHU KAAL' is beleived ny a lot of people.I rushed to another one.before I could enter a huge crowd of students had already posted themselves at every possible counter.I decided to get in any which ways and look for the form.After a few unanswered queries,I found the right form.So i joined the queue of about twenty students .After a few days...sorry hours,I got out of the bank with the DD in hand.
I reached college.By this time,the line a the office had grown as long as Rapunzel's hair.I wouldn't have known so many people to study in my college if it were not for this line before my eyes.As slowly as the line snaked forward,my stomach began to rumble.I had left home at about 7 in the morning,an ominous time to be awake.I hadn't had breakfast,and was definitely going to miss lunch.I was not alone in such times of trouble.A few of my friends were discretely sending smelly and noxious airs from their behind into the already warm atmosphere. and conspicuously looking at each other.Moreover,the line was held up at the front by girls,who as always,get to the first and stay there for a very long time.If these troubles were not enough,we had to fight groups of 'friends' who would arrive and try to displace you,or bribe you to take them in the line.It was almost as if we were fighting a war on our empty stomachs.

By the time i reached the counter,i was paining in all places.right at that moment,the PC went kaput!!Boy,did a commotion rise from the students corner.But then it was soon silenced with a simple word - rustication.Well,whoever wanted to get rusticated before being enrolled?I waited there,silent as a charlie chaplin movie.after a endlessly long wait of 20 minutes, my form was accepted and I was finally a student of this college.As i was venturing out,the clerk shouted behind me " check the office out.You won't be here for a long time from now!!" Was he right!!!